Thursday, September 29, 2016

CottonCuts Member Spotlight


The creative minds over at Cotton Cuts asked me to be part of Member spotlight this week.   Who doesn't love fabric??  But over at Cotton Cuts, they do something really special to me;  they employ Handicapable workers.  Now that's a win-win in my book.
Take a look Here

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Back To School Blog Hop: So, Does the Diagonal Method For A Pieced Backing Really Work?

In the years I have been quilting, I've  heard about a method to extend the width off-the-bolt quilting cotton and always wondered about it. It was a little like the legend of the summer camp ghost - evanescent.  Ethereal......

What was this all about?  How was it done?  Did it really work?

With a long arm machine in my studio,  having "ready-to-load"  backing is critical.
I've got too many tops that need to be quilted, and not enough time to fuss around with backings.

It should also be said that I *may* occasionally look for a shortcut to reduce my work load.   Not that I'm lazy....but, I have my "priorities" straight.  aka: lazy.

I've looked up the method a dozen times, but it included the dreaded: QUILT MATH.   Not regular looked like a quadratic equation.

Cue the high-school-math-related PTSD. [And I attended a nationally known Math & Science high school in the nations largest city, sorry Mr. Fisher - Hello!! #Stuy84].   But,  I never got a chance to actually  try it.

When I was invited to the Back To School Blog Hop,  I suggested a post about "The Diagonal Piecing Method" for quilt backs.   Note to self: stop volunteering!!

In it's most basic form, the "Diagonal" method involved cutting a length of fabric diagonally, sliding the halves and sewing it back together in a wider size.    Kind of like a "Z-plasty" done by cosmetic surgeons.

Because most quilting fabric is 44" wide off the bolt, quilts wider than 40" or so will require either a special wide-with fabric, or....piecing.  Especially if the quilt is being sent to a long arm quilter, who will ask for about 4" extra on each side to load the quilt properly.  Some people  "just do it, others create a reliable, tested solution.    The original quilter to quantify this concept was John Flynn, and his post provides a detailed description, diagram and printable instructions here.

In my research, I came across two very different blog posts I found helpful.  If you are thinking about trying the "Diagonal" method for the first time, I suggest you check them out.

My friend Ebony Love discusses her take on this method here. She adds what I think it an intuitive and quite obvious solution that avoids most math!!!!   I think this is a great idea if you have some orphan blocks or extra top facbric you want to include in the back.    And, did I say, virtually no math?

Kathy Mack of   Pink Chalk Fabrics described her experience with the method here.  She raised some very good issues with regard to fabric choice that would definitely save the beginner some time and anguish.   She provides step by step photos, which were very helpful as I tried to work through this process for myself.  Kathy discusses her results and process in a straight-forward and easy to follow manner.

I learn better by doing (kinesthetic) than reading (visual), so I decided to try this out on a very small scale.   For illustration purposes, here's a fat quarter:

And here is a fat quarter on "the Diagonal": 

As you can see, the fabric expanded by 10" in width, but shrunk by about 9" in length.

The purpose of Flynn's equation was to determined the length of fabric (LOF)  needed to create a finished backing of the desired width.    The best example is using a standard 44" wide quilting cotton, what length do you need to create a backing of "X" width.    "Simply"  plug in you dimensions to the formula, crunch the numbers and you can calculate how many yards are needed. 
[easier said than done - it's been over 30 years since I finished Algebra!!!!]

For example, if I need a 60" wide back from my 44" wide fabric...and I only have 1.5 yards, do I have enough?     

But I think the power of this equation is even larger than that.   If you know any 3 of the 4 dimensions, you can solve for any variable.   Thus, this formula can be used to figure out how wide you can make one yard of fabric.....or any of the variables.    

Or, if you're brave, you can just slice, and slide.

So, final answer: Yes, it works.

- use your stash
- less bulky when quilted
- inconspicuous if using a solid or blender fabric
-you can get creative with it

- bias sewing
- could require math
- not appropriate for obvious prints or directional fabrics
-more challenging for larger quilts
-did I mention...bias sewing?

So, welcome "Back to School"!!   I hope you'll think about stretching your wings and trying this method if you haven't before!

My worthless Studio Assistant, Betty

Stay tuned: Back to School Blog Hop!!

Tick Tock, Tick Tock!

My Back To School post is coming soon!  
Just as soon an I get that purple mimeograph ink off my hands!
Can you smell it?

Meanwhile, check on some of the other Bloggers who are getting ready to go 
Back to School!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Spring Clean Your a Studio Blog Hop

Here in Chicago, it seems like spring might have forgotten us, but today was - at least for a few minutes - glorious.  For the first time in about eight months.  I spent the day in my sewing studio.

When I heard that Cheryl Sleboda over at was hosting a spring cleaning blog hop, I knew I had to sign on. My sewing area had turned into a full on hotmess.   Several upgrades,  and a desire to expand my longarm to its full 12 feet created some urgency to get things under control. This blog hop was just the high-pressure deadline motivation I needed.

This project began as a serious uphill battle:

Yes: somewhere under there IS my long arm.  Crying.

And a brand spanking new Janome MCP 12000.  

My view from my sewing machine:  CHAOS.

impossible to find a thing
Seriously stressful to be here

So, obviously, it was time for something drastic: like expanding the long arm.  
Easy, peasy...right??

So a team of experts was brought in.   Everyone pitched in, even Genevieve the pug.

 And the Fairy Godmother of Quilting waved her magic wand (I mean days of backbreaking work, purging and reorganizing)....and....behold:
"Jerome" loves her new clean table by Tracy's Tables
Casters allow the long arm to be shifted depending on whether I need to work from the back or front
Cutting table by Tracy's Table is lowered for more room.
Whoa - there's room for a HUGE quilt

One leaf of my Tracy's table lifted for a small cutting area.


The devil is in the details:   IKEA Stugvik bathroom accessories keep small tools handy (L),   all my Aurilfil pretties nearby (C) and fabrics reorganized by color for easier design & access.  And I should probably mention that the long arm is the Avante by HandiQuilter on a Studio Frame.  (I love my HandiQuilter!!)  There *might* be some areas of the basement that still need some work, but this has been a huge improvement for me.    
It's a big struggle for me, but I was able to purge quite a bit to free up space.   I sold an old back up machine, and have my Pfaff 7570PCD listed for sale as well.   I'll be able to get a light machine for travel and retreats. 

But the most wonderful thing in my new studio, I did not even plan. It was a surprise Mother's Day gift from #2.   She DIY-ed it on her own, enlisting Honey's assistance and a few "trips to the Library" to get her supplies.    I love seeing it over my sewing station.

Grumbly outtakes:
Oh, I'm not supposed to be crawling around with a broken foot?

This makeover was exhausting, yet badly needed.   I'm really proud of adding the extension ourselves! I can't even believe this is MY studio as I look at these pictures.  There is some (possibly alot)  more work to do, but I can't wait to sew again!!

Please stop by and see all these wonderful quilters who are participating in the #Springcleanyourstudio Blog Hop. They have opened their studios  to give you a before and after look at their sewing spaces.    

May 7 Kathy Matthews

May 8 Misty Cole Http://
May 9 Heather Kinion
May 10 Jessica Darling
May 11 Lisa Blevis Filion
May 12 Peta Minerof-Bartos
May 13 Mandy Leins
May 14 Amalia Teresa Parra Morusiewicz
May 15 Sam Hunter
May 16 Debby Ritenbaugh Brown
May 17 Debbie Kleve Berkebile
May 18 Michelle Mattingly
May 19 Cheryl Sleboda